Finally Finding Satisfaction
Five Steps to Recovery, Number 5.
Posted January 27, 2022 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
In the past four posts, you’ve learned how your behaviors, emotions, core beliefs, and body sensations relate to your food and body image struggles. Each has prepared you for what I will discuss now: how to find soul satisfaction. At some point, you will come to realize that your food and body image issues are can’t be fixed with diets and that there may be a deeper root cause that you have not addressed. All of this adds up to not being able to express who you are on the inside and not being able to express your true and authentic self, no matter what your size or shape. If you ask yourself the cause of most of your suffering about your food obsessions and body hatred, you may realize that because of these problems you have not allowed yourself to express who you truly are. When you find this satisfaction you will be able to bring it into all areas of your life, including your relationship with food and how you feel about your body.
Here is an example from a former patient: Erica’s father was a larger-than-life person who did everything to extremes, including drinking. When he drank, he was often violent or threatening to her mother and sometimes toward her. When she came home from school, she never knew what her evenings would be like. Would she feel safe or need to hide in her room to avoid him? This insecurity followed her into adult life. Her fear was that she was not good enough to pursue the job she dreamed of as an ICU nurse. In therapy, she was able to recognize that the insecurity and fear came from her childhood. By reconnecting to her unrealized passion, she found other areas of her life falling into place—including being able to conquer her food and body image issues.
There is a part of us that is unchanging and separate from the thoughts, judgments, and experiences of our day-to-day lives. Many call it the soul or spirit. This part of ourselves, our essence or our true self, is what makes us individuals because it is expressed differently in different people. No matter what you go through in life, this part of your self is the part of you that remains without change, unblemished, and untarnished by struggles, disappointments, betrayals, or pain. Satisfying it is about living from who you truly are, being anchored by your essential nature.
What does it mean to be anchored?
Being anchored is about being true to yourself and accessing your inner strength. Sometimes life’s struggles can change you and take you off your path or make you lose focus in life. When you find your true anchor, you tap into a reservoir of intuitive, natural knowledge that will help you shift your beliefs, use your body sensations and body wisdom as cues, regulate your emotions, and manage your behaviors. Without this deep well of knowledge in which body, mind, and soul are connected, you will continue to operate on superficial levels, repeating past mistakes, reenacting old traumas, and living life based on beliefs that no longer serve you.
I’ve mentioned previously that food can often represent something that is missing in your life; body dissatisfaction (or the desire to be thin) can do the same. When the deeper urges of your soul or your spirit are not being met, it can feel as if you have a huge hole inside. You may have unconsciously tried to fill that void with food or to distract yourself from the void by focusing on your dissatisfaction or hatred of your body.
You may feel that your food and body image issues or troubling life experiences have typecast you in a life role that doesn’t really suit you. When you are able to live more from your authentic self, you will feel like a storm-tossed sailor who has found a safe harbor in which to drop anchor. You will feel like you’ve come home—to your self. Finding your anchor may be about work or relationships or any area of your life in which you are not yet being fully authentic. When you find your anchor, you live from who you truly are, and as a result, your relationship with food and your body will be more satisfying.
If you’ve struggled with food and body image issues for most of your life, your self-worth may be inextricably tied to the number on the scale or whether you’ve had a good-food or bad-food day—whether you ate what you thought you should eat and didn’t eat foods you consider “bad.”
You may have decided at some point that the only way to have your needs for affection, attention, recognition, or success met is to be a certain size—to be thin. Think about how much of your time, energy, and focus (and money) has been spent on the pursuit of changing your size and obsessing about food, perhaps sometimes at the expense of your relationships or other important goals.
By now, you may also realize now that self-worth can’t come from appearance, or a certain body shape or size. True self-worth comes from your essence or your true self. You can tell the difference between true self-worth and superficial self-worth by paying attention to your feelings. When your life is a reflection of what you value most—and what you love—you are more likely to be living a life of soul satisfaction.
Perhaps you have forgotten or left behind parts of your true self. Now is the time to reclaim that true essence and to begin the process of reclaiming the parts of yourself that have been ignored, forgotten, or left behind. Erica, for example, had put aside her desire to be a nurse. For you, it may be that you never felt you could handle having children—either out of fear that they might be hurt as you were as a child or because you felt that you would not be able to find the right partner unless you had the perfect body. Now is the time to listen to your soul’s needs.
1. List foods you tend to crave or binge on or crave and the emotions you feel when you eat them: When I eat (specific food), I feel (emotion). (Example: When I eat strawberry shortcake, I feel comforted. It reminds me of my grandmother, and she was the person who I thought cared for me the most growing up. I usually crave this food when I am feeling stressed or lonely.)
2. What is the need that you are trying to satisfy with each food?: My soul need for (specific food) is a need for (fill in the blank). (Example: My soul need for strawberry shortcake is a need for love or companionship, a need to feel like someone really cares about me.)
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